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Nationwide Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday

February 10, 2010 |  4:42 pm

Hummingbird

It's time to break out the binoculars, birding books and notepads and get outside in the name of science.

Birding enthusiasts both novice and expert are encouraged to participate in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, taking place Friday through Monday across the nation, and now Canada.

"Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds -- all at the same time," said Judy Braus, Audubon Education vice president.

A joint project of the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and, for the first time, Bird Studies Canada, it's an opportunity for people of all ages to monitor the bird activity in their neighborhoods. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they wish, on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online.

"Even if you can identify a few species you can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities," Braus said.

Last year, birders turned in 94,165 checklists, identified 620 species and counted 11,558,638 individual birds.

The GBBC website is chock-full of useful information, including printable regional tally sheets, frequently asked questions and information on entering the annual photo contest.

The survey is conducted in February to provide a snapshot of how birds are surviving the winter and where they are located just before spring migrations begin in March.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo of hummingbird by Pete Thomas / petethomasoutdoors.com

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